LAHORE: This is with reference to the uncalled for disqualification of Ayaz Amir by a returning officer for his views published in various articles in a leading newspaper. Nobody other than the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal had the right to declare or define the basis for the creation of Pakistan. The Quaid had very clearly elaborated to members of the Constituent Assembly that they must work together to ensure that any citizens “no matter what his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations.” If this is observed, “there will be no end to the progress you will make”. He also stated: “You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state. The second thing that occurs to me is this: one of the biggest curses from which India is suffering — I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think, our condition is much worse — is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so”.
It was further made clear by him that “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state ... We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state ... I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in due course Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.”
What the Quaid desired for Pakistan was a state where rules were incorporated, taking into account the compassion, justice, tolerance and principles of equality which Islam stresses upon, so that all citizens could work together leaving the bitter memories of their past in pre-Partition India behind and build a modern, democratic, welfare state. What we now have instead is a country torn apart by racial, ethnic, sectarian divides and intolerance, with extremists coming down from the mountains of Afghanistan, conceding our depth to bigoted fanaticism as a result of General Ziaul Haq’s intervention, along with rampant corruption. This was definitely not the ideology or the vision of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, nor of Allama Iqbal.
Malik Tariq Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2013.